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Winning ‘one&only reaching for young stars’ Culinary Competition For The 2nd Consecutive Year!


The Hurst Campus has for the second year running, won the prestigious The One&Only Reaching for Young Stars culinary competition in the top category of Duo of Chefs. Rebecca Hurst, founder and head of The Hurst Campus says that this achievement comes at a fortuitous time as the Cape Winelands based ‘super cool culinary school’ celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Rebecca Odendaal and Nicola Swart from The Hurst Campus outsmarted students from no less than 10 other top culinary academies in the Cape in the Duo of Chefs category, and also won the Best Witlof Starter category with their dish Gorgonzola mousse, blue cheese and smoked walnut crumble, silky pear gelee and cubes, Parma ham crisp, olive oil brushed witlof/endive.

In addition, amidst stiff competition in which the two talented young chefs teamed up with Wine Steward Luvuyo Tshazibane and Winemaker DeWet Viljoen of Neethlingshof, the team took a proud second place in the Food & Wine Pairing category.

Graduating from The Hurst Campus this year, Rebecca Odendaal (19) who is from Zimbawe originally, completed her internship at La Bon Vivant in Franschhoek and Paarl resident Nicola Swart (22) at Terroir. Their amazing prizes include a five-month contract to gain working experience in the USA at the Winslow Tavern in Cape Cod (Massachusetts), including air tickets, accommodation and a monthly salary. Highly rated by international food and travel guides and Trip Advisor, the 170-seater restaurant is operated by fellow South Africans, Chef Patrons Phillip and Tracey Hunt, and an international brigade of highly skilled chefs producing an all-American seasonal menu heavily influenced by coastal cuisine.

It is the second time that The Hurst Campus took top honours in this esteemed competition. Last year (2016), The Hurst Campus entry of Lukas Wiese and Andrew Barnard won the same category of Duo of Chefs and walked away as winners of the Lancewood Best Dessert prize too. Andrew Barnard completed his internship at Mosaic Restaurant and is currently working at the Fusion Mia Resort in Vietnam, while Lukas Wiese, who did his internship at Waterkloof Restaurant is staying on in the USA after a summer in Cape Cod to work at the Stratton Mountain Resort for the winter ski season.

Curated by Showcook industry stalwarts Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith, the annual One&Only Reaching for Young Stars initiative is now in its seventh year and is widely recognised as the top culinary event for student chefs and wine stewards. Congratulating the two winners, Annette Kesler said: ‘Ability, brains and beauty – what a combination! Hats off to The Hurst Campus.’

The eleven competing culinary institutes put forward their finest young stars to compete for top honours in the Cook-Off. The young candidates teamed up with 11 top hotels and 11 wineries to pair their creative menus using specific South African products. Led by Reuben Riffel, a panel of eleven top ‘Food & Wine’ luminaries in the hospitality industry judged the Cook-Off this year, including Aubrey Ngcungama, Carolyn Miller-Krogh, Craig Hibbert, Horst Frehse, Julietta é Silva, Luvo Ntezo, Marieta Human, Mariëtte Crafford, Marlvin Gwese and Penelope Horwood.

Asked what The Hurst Campus attributes the success of its students in this competition to, Rebecca Hurst replied that the school offers a solid academic and inspiring practical foundation. ‘However, instilling a winning mindset and an attitude of self-belief is equally important. This allows my team to develop a student’s raw talent into something unique and special. It opens up opportunities and challenges such as this competition, and provides the confidence that is required to join the competitive food, wine and hospitality industries.’

We are also very proud of the fact that during their study internships, our students have the opportunity to work at the very best restaurants and hotels in South Africa, which develops invaluable hands-on work experience to join the industry. Graduates of our globally recognised 2-Year Advanced Food and Wine Chef Programme are furthermore guaranteed employment when they qualify, with many spreading their wings internationally to gain further experience. Over the years our graduates have made name for themselves locally and abroad and I am so proud of each and every one of them working in the industry here and in countries as far afield as China, Cambodia, USA, Ireland, the UK, Mauritius and all over Africa’, she concluded.

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